Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Family Dinners

I couldn't be a bigger believer in family dinners, and as the kids get older we are finding ourselves eating at odd times but doing whatever it takes to all sit around a table at dinnertime.

Last night, I had a little melt-down over my to do list and lack of a clear vision of Brad's schedule for the week. Brad announced I needed a mama time out and that we were going out to dinner. I did. I spent thirty minutes alone in our room and was a much more pleasant human being as we figured out our schedule for the week and then went for Mexican after we picked Issa up from dance.

And then the magic happened. Somewhere between the queso and quesadillas, I found us having a real conversation about how doing the right thing is sometimes hard. The kids shared their school stories; Brad and I shared our school stories from years ago that had echos of today. We made coping plans and practiced conversation. (I'm a huge believer in giving the kids actual words they can use.) We made up ridiculous scenarios that made us dissolve into giggles--and I'm praying the kids don't actually use those at school. It was real conversation, and I'm pretty much convinced it wouldn't have happened if we weren't sitting at the dinner table.

So I'm putting it in writing. Whatever it takes for as long as I can, we will all sit around the table for dinner as often as humanly possible. We'll make the magic happen.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Blur...

This weekend was a bit of a blur! Friday, we had a pop-up play date at our house. The bus crew headed to our house. I love having a houseful--especially a houseful that plays so well together. The boys had an epic nerf battle. Issa entertained the two little girls and sent them home in new dress-up outfits. It was much fun.

Saturday, we spent the w-h-o-l-e day at a dance competition. We were the first and last routines for our studio. I took no pictures. But! I did buy a lot and I will post them once they arrive! I also stole this one from the studio's facebook page:
 The girls won top studio! Issa had a great day dancing, and we couldn't be more proud! Nana also got to experience her first competition. She is going to be the dance mom for Issa at the next competition since I will be in Italy!

After the competition, the kids spent the night at Nana's, which let Brad and I sleep in a bit! I started the day with my new yoga class! I almost chickened out, but Brad made me go and I'm so glad he did. It is a challenging class, but it focuses on releasing tension and being mindful, which is just what I need. I'm a little sore today, but I can't wait to go back!

After class, I had just enough time to shower before Brad and I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:
He surprised me with the tickets Friday! It really was an amazing show. The main character has autism, and the stage was designed so that the audience could experience the way he processes sensory information. Between that and watching his relationship with his parents and those struggles, it was a bit of a difficult show to watch. It was one of those where you left thinking, and I'm so glad we got to see it.

We ended the weekend with dinner at Nana's, and now we're launching into a new week!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Laughter

If there is one thing I pray our kids remember when they are all grown up it's laughter. One thing our little family does well is laugh.

I was reminded of it again last night. We were doing the nightly round of whack-a-mole to get little people into bed. Brad and I started laughing at the revolving door of children in and out of rooms--it looked like a Monty Python sketch. And then I decided to tackle Issa in her bed, and Brad joined, and hilarity ensued. And then Evan needed chased into bed, and hilarity ensued.

Bedtime was delayed a bit, and all the chasing probably didn't help them settle into sleep any faster. But oh, we laughed. And that is so worth it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In the Past Five Days...

1. I went on an amazingly perfect date to Table with Brad on Friday night. It was a long leisurely dinner with the best lamb shank I have ever eaten. Truly lovely.

2. Saturday, we managed to get the kids new tennis shoes and me two pairs of shoes to take to Italy and no one cried once. Small miracles.

3. Saturday night we got to the Lego Batman movie with the dojo; I've never felt so safe in a theater. As soon as the credits ended, we got to meet up with Rachel and Mom for dinner--super fun way to end the day.

4. Sunday, I welcomed 32 potential Teaching Fellows to campus. They spent the night, and I loved having them in class Monday morning. I'm really excited to see them again in the fall! It was also great to go out to dinner with Mom and Rachel again on Sunday night!

5. Tuesday, I did an elementary college fair. I love little kids, but they are exhausting! It is also very hard to go from teaching itty bitties to teaching graduate students. Hello, whiplash.

6. Mom and I chose blinds for her new place! They are super simple and will look amazing. Brad is excited they are also being installed.

7. Ryan and Felicia came over for dinner last night. Thank goodness they didn't mind that I nearly fell asleep at the table.

Friday, February 17, 2017


So...Brad is taking me a on surprise date tonight, and the suspense is killing me.

Bless his heart, he wanted the date itself to be a surprise. He contacted our sitter and was working the whole thing out, but his car betrayed him. He finally let go of the Saturn and has a lovely new-to-us Ford Focus. As if the power locks and windows were not enough of an upgrade (seriously...the Saturn was a 2001 with manual everything), he has a fancy back-up camera and screen that connects to his phone. We were headed to the dealership to sign the last paperwork, and his car read the incoming text from our sitter saying she was free tonight. Poor guy.

But...I have no idea where we are going! I can't wait to find out, though, and have a little quality time with my favorite person.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Forever Valentine

19 years ago yesterday, Brad and I went on our first date. It was perfectly imperfect. He had planned every single detail and it was truly a perfect day--even when our reservations got lost and we ended up at Taco Bell for dinner.

Life since then has been perfectly imperfect. Monday, I broke. Life has been so full lately, and I felt like I was drowning in my roles: wife, mother, professor. The list went on and on. I love each of those roles, but at the end of the day I was feeling like there was no room for Heather anymore. I was missing something of my very own. Monday night, Brad took over dinner and the kid shuffling. I had a chance to breathe a bit. I found a yoga class that will fit my schedule and be a sacred hour and half of my very own every week. It's better.

But here's what I love. He loves me, and he knows me. Not once did he question my love for him or our kids or our life. He just knew I needed a little breathing room, and he made it for me.

Last night, I made heart shaped pizzas and opened a bottle of our favorite wine. He made me a cake. We tucked the kids and watched Netflix. It was perfectly imperfect, and I can't wait for an entire lifetime of the same...

Monday, February 13, 2017

To West Coast and Back Again

 Issa and I made our annual trek to Greenville, South Carolina this weekend for the West Coast dance competition and convention. Issa danced her little feet off! She competed tap:
 And lyrical:
All three dances earned 4 out of 5 stars, and I'm so proud of how much they've grown since Showcase.

Issa also had a little fan:
 Blair is one of the littles in the class she helps out in and the studio director's daughter. Watching the two of them have ballet class in the dressing room melted my heart.

I actually loved watching all of the big girls play with her:
 It truly is a family, and those little moments are perfect evidence.

Issa's whole Mini group is so sweet this year:
 And she loved spending time with these two:
 They've danced together sine the beginning:
I loved seeing how much Issa has grown since last year. She picked up on the choreography so much more quickly, and she had fun in classes. I couldn't be more proud, and I can't wait to see where the rest of the season takes us.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Full Circle

Last night was another big night for Evan:
He got to officially help in a Mighty Dragons class as the dojo. He was so excited to be one of the coaches, and it was so surreal to watch him be the "big kid." He did a great job coaching, too! It's still odd for me to see him correcting someone's form or helping a kiddo figure out how a move works. He loved it, though, I love him!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Too Cool

We have retrieved the trapped pictures! Evan was so proud to have his picture taken with Mr. Hayes:
 But Brad and I think this picture from the dojo's webpage is way cooler:
Evan hasn't reached the point of training with knives yet, so everything they did with knives was brand new to him. He was having some trouble with one of the techniques, so Mr. Hayes himself came over to be his training partner.

We are so incredibly grateful to continue to be in a dojo that models community. Rank only means you help those behind you, and the founder himself models that creed. We will be forever grateful for the opportunities Evan has had and we know he will continue to have at Quest.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Big Weekend

This was one epic weekend. All of the pictures are trapped on Brad's phone, though.

Friday night, the four of us went to our first Hurricanes hockey game. The kids earned tickets from school, and we had what we thought were perfect seats. We were all the way in the third tier, but we were behind one of the goals. We could see absolutely everything and the concourse was way less crowded! The Hurricanes won 2-1, and we got to see some really good hockey. Evan was a little too excited to see someone get a broken nose, too. In related news, I have forbidden Evan from ever playing hockey.

Saturday, Issa had dance rehearsal in the morning, and then we dropped Evan off for Winter Quest at the dojo. This was his first time to get to train for a whole weekend with Mr. Hayes, the founder of To Shin Do. Evan was over the moon excited. Brad and I were both so nervous dropping him off. We trust the staff there totally, but Evan was the youngest one there by a few years, and when he got there he was the only youth. He had an awesome time, though. He got some great coaching from Mr. Hayes himself, and he got to do his first work with a knife. It was a big weekend for him!

While he was there, the rest of us went to Nana's. We went TV shopping, and then Brad started all of the installation before Issa kicked us out so she could have her first slumber party with Nana. They went to dinner, baked cookies and cupcakes, and generally had too much fun. Yesterday, the two of them used our tickets to the ballet. Issa woke up this morning babbling about how much fun she had, and Evan is counting down the days until his turn next weekend.

While all of that was happening, Brad and I snuck in a dinner date Saturday evening at a Thai place we've been wanting to try, and we went back to Mom's yesterday to do some more of Brad's honey-do list.

Last night, Nana came over for a Super Bowl party. Brad made wings, which were awesome, and we watched through half-time before Nana headed home. I still get giddy that she can just come over for dinner. Or we can pop over whenever. It makes my heart happy--the whole weekend did.

Friday, February 3, 2017

He Loves Me

Thursdays are long. I put in a 12 hour day at the office and come home to the school's Thursday folders filled with every piece of paper from the week and a few million forms that need completed. It doesn't help that it's towards the end of the week. When I walked through the door last night, though, this is what I found:
The bag was even already open. And everything felt a little bit more manageable. Because he loves me.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Big Night

Evan's face doesn't show it in the picture (because why take a picture for Mom?), but he was one ecstatic kid last night:
 He earned his blue-white belt and was accepted into the Mon Jin last night! He will now move from earth moves to water moves, and he will be able to train with the group who have committed to earning their black belts. He can't wait to put that black gi on!

I will be forever grateful for his incredible coaches:
Mr. Bryan was part of his testing last night, and he has been a part of Evan's training since the very first day. All of the men that have been a part of Evan's training bring out the very best in him. They challenge him. They play with him. And I know they love him. There is no greater gift.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Twice the Ninja

In other huge news around our house, we now have double the ninja power:
He will be so thrilled I posted that picture, but Daddy officially joined the dojo, too! Evan was thrilled--especially when he realized he out-ranked Dad. They both had a blast at class this weekend and are excited about going back tonight, and I sure do love seeing both my boys so happy.